Click here for the 2020_05-06 Newsletter as pdf in the same format as our mailed newsletter.
Underlined text is a clickable link.
When Will We Gather For On Campus Worship Together Again?
The simple answer to this question is: As soon as we can do so safely. With the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court reversing the “Safer at Home” order, size restrictions have been eased. However, this does not mean COVID-19 is over. Information changes rapidly on the issue. This makes long term planning difficult. The Church Council discussed this issue at their meeting on May 18. The decision was made to open the last weekend of May. This means that Thursday, May 28, will be our first time back to worship on campus. We will continue to have online worship, even after we can safely gather together without any restrictions.
What Are The Guiding Principles We Are Following During the Pandemic?
- We Continue to Worship Together
The Third Commandment reminds us to not despise the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Ever since the creation of the world God’s people have gathered to proclaim his name. This took various forms. Abraham built altars for his family to worship. In the wilderness, and even once they got to the Promised Land, the Israelites worshiped in a tent until the temple was built. Paul preached to people gathered in houses. Churches have long been the place to come together for Christians. At this time we still “gather” online for worship. God feeds us with his Word for the strengthening of our faith. We continue to follow the Third Commandment this way. It does not take the place of in person worship around Word and Sacrament, but we are worshiping together until we can come back to church.
- We Make Decisions for the Safety and Health of Our Members and Guests
Viruses and flus are all around. In this sinful world we will continue to battle these problems. COVID-19 is different. We have learned much over the last few months how the virus spreads and affects people, even the “low-risk.” We continue to monitor local and national health experts in guiding our decisions. Guided by the information we receive, we will try to do everything to make our campus as safe as possible for all. This does not mean we do not trust God. Our Heavenly Father is in control of all things, including this virus. At the same time God gives us wisdom to use as we make decisions with the information available to us.
- We Will Excel in Love
People have various opinions on what we should do, how we should open and when we should open. It is okay to have differing opinions. It is also important to be known for our love. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). We need to be loving with one another in our words and actions. We do not want to do anything that would divide or cause offense. We have been guided by love in making all our decisions throughout this entire situation.
Plans for When We Reopen
- Public services will begin on May 28 & May 31, with a different schedule (see below).
- Our short “First Friday” service will become an every Friday short service at 1:30 p.m.
- We will continue to offer YouTube Worship.
- We will ensure proper distancing and sanitation to the best of our ability.
- Those who have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or flu should stay home.
- Those who are at high risk of serious illness are encouraged to stay home.
- Those who are uncomfortable attending services at this time are encouraged to stay home.
- You are welcome to wear a mask, but they are not required.
- Every third pew will be open to allow for social distancing.
- The number of members will be limited in each pew.
- High contact surfaces (like pews, railings, and door handles) will be disinfected after every service.
- A deeper cleaning will be done after each weekend.
- Hymnals and Care Cards will be removed from the pews.
- The service will be printed in the bulletin as usual, along with hymns.
- Service folders will be in the pews, not distributed by ushers. They will be discarded after one use, not reused.
- Boxes will be available by the entrances for offerings.
Before the Service
- Hand sanitizer will be available at the doors.
- There will be no hand shaking before the service.
- During the summer months, we will keep windows open for the sake of ventilation.
- Council members will be present in the narthex to guide people in these new procedures.
- We will offer the Sacrament of Holy Communion in each service, giving everyone the opportunity to partake when they attend.
- People will be ushered up on the lectern side first, then the pulpit side, so that we have only one line.
- We will introduce continuous distribution to help with distancing.
- Those who do not wish to commune or are not comfortable communing at this time will be free not to do so, with absolutely no stigma.
- Those who are distributing the Sacrament will clean their hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer immediately before distribution.
- Communicants will receive the wafer in an open palm.
- The common cup will not be used for a time.
- Individual cups will be spaced out in the trays.
After the Service
- Pastors will not shake hands with people as they exit the sanctuary.
- Members are encouraged not to stay and socialize in the narthex. This is something that can be done more safely outside, if desired.
- Regular Bible studies and Sunday school classes will not resume at this time.
The Council discussed various options for reopening for public worship. They did so with the thought of the importance of gathering together and the safety of all. There will be no perfect plan. We need to show love and concern as we try to become “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22). We do not want to put any stumbling blocks in people’s ways in coming back to church.
The Council decided to go with the following approach to our worship for the first few weeks we are open. The schedule will be as follows:
Thursdays: 6:00 PM — Those with last names A-M
Thursdays: 7:00 PM — Those with last names N-Z
Fridays: 1:30 PM — Open to anyone
Sundays: 8:00 AM — Those with last names A-G
9:00 AM — Those with last names H-M
10:00 AM — Those with last names N-S
11:00 AM — Those with last names T-Z
Each service will be about 30 minutes with a sermon, short liturgy, and communion. As circumstances and recommendations change, we will amend. Our plan is to limit our attendance to 100 per service for the time being. We also ask that attendees please arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before the service to allow for cleaning and set up after each service.
We are having more services with the hope of spreading people out. If there are exceptional cases (such as having to drive a neighbor or relative to church), please let us know. We will take those into consideration. This is for a short time (3 weeks). These are not our long term plans. The Council will make decisions going forward at their next meeting. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and most importantly prayers in this matter.
The Church Council
Pastors Dorn, Heyer, Stratman
Church office hours are going back to our regular summer schedule, Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m.—12:00 noon, 12:30—4:00 p.m. Friday 7:30—12:00 noon.
Your pastors are here to serve you. Call the church office at 885-3309 if you want to set up an appointment for private communion or just to talk. We realize that some people are choosing not to go out. The pastors are happy to make home visits (with hand sanitizer and face masks).
You can also contact the church office by email at [email protected]. If you have email, please send us an email with your name in the body of the message. This will help us stay in contact with you, and will help us save money on postage for special mailings.
We have an offering box near the church office where people can drop their offering envelopes at any time during office hours.
We also have been receiving offerings in the mail. Send to:
300 West Street
Beaver Dam WI 53916
We now have online giving. Go to www.ssbdwels.com and click on “Online Giving.” You will have to create an account with links to your financial institution. You can specify a dollar amount and give a one-time gift, or recurring gift: weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.
Even though we are meeting in person again, we are still using all technology available to continue to serve our congregation with God’s Word.
Our radio broadcast is still on WBEV AM 1430 every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Our radio services are shared on our Facebook page, and streaming audio is also available on our main webpage, www.ssbdwels.com, click on “Radio Service.”
Video on Facebook and YouTube
Sunday worship will be streamed on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ststephensbd/). A high-quality video of Sunday worship will be uploaded to YouTube later. Go to www.ssbdwels.com and click on “YouTube Worship.”
Since Easter, your pastors have been giving daily devotions as a joint project with the pastors from St. John’s Juneau/Lowell/Horicon and Good Shepherd. We plan to continue these devotions, which are uploaded to YouTube and also shared on Facebook.
As much as your pastors would like to continue visiting the homebound or shut-ins, we may be unable to come to some nursing homes or senior apartments because of their restrictions. We also realize that older people are at higher risk of infection.
We will continue to call people at our regularly scheduled times to have an over-the-phone devotion and to give the next visitation date.
Our website www.ssbdwels.com is the hub for all our news and information. Newsletters, news items, and everything else are posted on our main website, and YouTube and Facebook are also linked to the main website. We will also send emails immediately for any breaking news.
Edward Nelson, d. April 25, 2020, private service was held, Memorial Service will be held at a later date.
Eugene Heidemann, d. April 27, 2020, private service will be held.
Mrs. Brittany Trimmer of Emmanuel Redeemer in Yale, Michigan has accepted the Call to be our first grade teacher.
Mr. David Schulz returned his call to St. Paul’s in Moline, Illinois, and will remain with us at St. Stephen’s.
Mr. Jacob Bohlmann of Crete, Illinois was assigned to serve at St. Stephen’s as upper grade teacher with a one-year assignment.
Please remember these called workers, the other schools and St. Stephen’s in your prayers.